EU climate commitments gassed by toxic subsidies

Originally published on the CAN Europe website.

European politicians may be talking up their climate action, but in reality the EU is still subsidising new gas infrastructure that will lock Europe into the fossil fuel age for decades. The gas projects are also associated with human rights violations, corruption, and environmental destruction.

Gas is a fossil fuel with substantial emissions of carbon dioxide and methane. Yet in 2014-16 the EU provided an average of €4bn spending on fossil fuels, most of which went to gas infrastructure, and the subsidies keep coming through an array of funding mechanisms.

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is part of the EU budget and under direct management of the European Commission. It has already provided over €1.3 billion to fossil gas infrastructure projects including the Croatian Krk LNG terminal, the Southern Gas Corridor, the Midcat pipeline between Spain and France, and the EastMed pipeline. The future of the CEF will be discussed soon as negotiations on the next EU budget kick-off in May. It is unacceptable that this first post-Paris Agreement CEF contain any future gas funding.

Another source of fossil fuel subsidies comes from the European Investment Bank (EIB). Despite showcasing its engagement in the fight against climate change on international stages, the EIB is financing huge gas pipelines that will lock us into a disastrous fossil future for decades.

In February the EIB granted Europe’s largest ever loan to a fossil fuel project, doling out EUR 1.5 billion to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the western leg of the Southern Gas Corridor, a 3,500km pipeline crossing six countries from Azerbaijan to Europe. There has been no full climate impact assessment of the project. Reports have even demonstrated that this mega pipeline could be as emissions-intensive as coal power – or even more so.

Amid fierce NGO criticism in March the bank channelled another EUR 932 million into the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP). This funding is not only disastrous from a climate perspective, but involves the authoritarian regimes in Turkey and Azerbaijan, linking an EU infrastructure project to regimes with flagrant democracy and human rights violations.

All EU bodies should be focused on making public money available for genuine climate action, including ambitious energy efficiency measures, the transition to 100% renewables, and resilience to climate impacts. 2018 is a decisive year as the EIB will be updating its Energy Policy. The negotiations on the post-2020 EU budget are also well underway amongst EU decision-makers. It’s time for the EU to show that it takes its climate commitments seriously and guarantee that there will be no place for gas in EIB lending or in the next EU budget.

Read more about the Fossil Fuel Subsidies Awards here.

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